For first time in Appeal history, a family will serve as campaign's top volunteer leaders
The 2018 Appeal for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Buffalo is underway. The Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, was joined by Catholic Charities of Buffalo officials and volunteer leaders Wednesday at the organization's new Women, Infants and Children (WIC) site on Harlem Road to launch the 94th annual campaign.
The goal for the 2018 Appeal is $11 million.
Malone and Sister Mary McCarrick, diocesan director of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, introduced Robert M. Bennett, chancellor emeritus of the New York State Board of Regents, as general chair for the 2018 annual Appeal. Bennett's son, Andrew, and daughter, Maurine Falkowski, will serve as co-Appeal chairs, marking the first time in the Appeal's history a family will serve as the campaign's top volunteer leaders.
Beatrice Connelly, M.D., was the first woman to chair the Appeal in 1977, and Mike and Cindi Winter were the first husband-wife team in 2004.
The annual Appeal helps fund Catholic Charities' 70 programs and services across 61 sites in the eight counties of Western New York, along with a number of ministries through the Bishop's Fund for the Faith. The theme for this year's Appeal is "Love Your Neighbor" and the patron saint is St. Clare of Assisi.
Malone, now in his sixth year as bishop of Buffalo, introduced this year's theme, saying, "The Apostle Paul in the Book of Galatians directs and empowers us to live as Christ's ambassadors and instruments here on earth; stating the entire law is fulfilled in keeping with one command, to 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Regardless of our faith, we can all agree that treating our neighbors as we'd hope to be treated is a worthy goal. And of course we take great pride here in Buffalo considering ourselves to be the 'City of Good Neighbors.'
"With those thoughts in mind, I am pleased to announce the theme for the 2018 Catholic Charities Appeal is, 'Love your neighbor.' The services provided by Catholic Charities benefited nearly 153,000 people last year alone, and this year's Appeal will help us to continue providing help and hope to our neighbors in need."
Echoing Malone's comments, McCarrick shared how Catholic Charities demonstrates this year's theme through its array of services and programs. '
"No matter the environment year to year, Catholic Charities' programs and services fulfill this goal of loving our neighbor," she said. "When we provide food at one of our eight pantries, clothing through the Ladies of Charity thrift store, or help a single parent to regain shelter for her family, we are loving our neighbor. When we offer affordable treatment for all ages for mental illness and substance abuse, we are loving our neighbor. And, when we provide accessible and skilled counseling in many locations across Western New York to children and families for all kinds of life's challenges, we are loving our neighbor."
Appeal 2018 will run through June 30. Two important dates during this year's Appeal are First Report Sunday on March 18 and the culmination of Appeal Week 2018 on Palm Sunday, March 25.
Malone said this year's ambitious $11 million goal, which is the same as the past two Appeals, "Recognizes the challenges associated with raising such a significant amount of money while also realizing the need for our programs and services is great."
Saying he has great confidence in the Bennett family, the entire leadership team, staff, volunteers, and the Appeal's many donors in helping to reach this year's goal, Malone reflected on the words of St. Clare, calling on the community to "Love one another with the charity of Christ, letting the love you have in your hearts be shown outwardly in your deeds."
Robert Bennett at the podium with McCarrick and Malone seated.
Prior to his election and ultimate retirement as a Regent, Bennett had a distinguished career in local government and community service, including 23 years with the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, retiring as president and CEO in December 2000.
Falkowski is vice president of Grant Builders Inc. Andrew Bennett is director of business development at Kaleida Health.
During his remarks, Bennett said he and his family selected St. Clare of Assisi as the 2018 Appeal patron saint because the way she lived her life fit perfectly into this year's theme.
"St. Clare dedicated her life to caring and showing concern for the poor and marginalized in society. After leaving the comfortable life she knew for a life of piety and poverty, she essentially was a beggar. But her efforts were for those in need, always giving to others," he said. "St. Clare told us that 'we are to become the vessels of God's compassionate love for others.' This is our inspiration and motivation as we carry out the 2018 Appeal."
Dennis Walczyk, Catholic Charities' CEO, said the new Harlem Road WIC office was selected to kick off the 2018 Appeal in conjunction with the site's open house. Since relocating in September, the Cheektowaga office regularly serves 2,200 WIC participants a month, offering clients services such as nutritional counseling and education, breastfeeding support and supplemental food vouchers. Walczyk also said the site offered Catholic Charities an opportunity to pilot a new program.
"When we secured this location, one of our goals was to pilot participant-centered nutrition services. Through this model, the participant is able to complete all of the necessary steps for nutrition orientation and education in one room, as opposed to moving from room to room. For expectant mothers and those with small children, this one-stop approach is much more manageable and client-focused," he said. "After finding success with this model, we are working toward implementing it at all of our WIC sites throughout Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties."
Catholic Charities has administered the federally funded WIC program in Niagara County for more than 30 years, in all of Erie County since 2009 and in Chautauqua County since 2016. Last year, the WIC program was able to impact the lives of more than 70,000 individuals throughout the three counties.
The 2018 Appeal volunteer leadership team includes John and Ruthanne Daly, vice chairs; Jim Dentinger and Lisa Wardynski, corporate co-chairs; and Rick Cronin, parish chair.
Catholic Charities has helped individuals and families in need since its founding in 1923. That need is varied and widespread - from emergency assistance to mental health counseling and treatment, and from specialized services for older adults to help with job training and education.
Catholic Charities works to empower children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. In all situations, Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assesses clients for other needs to ensure long-term success.
Catholic Charities earns highest-possible ratings from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management, and is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity. Catholic Charities also receives highest ratings from the Council on Accreditation for quality service.
To make a donation to the 2018 Appeal or for more information, contact Catholic Charities at 716-218-1400 or go to ccwny.org